Usability Professionals’ Association Conference & Design Competition

I’m posting this because I think both the conference and the competition may be of interest to our students and others.  However, I’m a little skeptical about the competition. What do usability professionals know about sustainable transportation?

Usability Professionals’ Association

2009 International Conference

Bringing Usability to Life:Making everyday things better

About the Conference

When: 8-12 June, 2009
Where: Hilton & Executive Tower Portland, Oregon, USA
Who: Over 700 user experience professionals from more than 20 countries
What: Tutorials, workshops, Experienced Practitioners program, then two and a half days packed with presentations, Idea Markets, and opportunities to network with other user experience professionals.

Student Design Competition:

Important Dates

  • 23 March, 2009 Paper Submissions Deadline 17:00 EST, Round 1 Closed
  • 15 April, 2009 Notification of Round 1 winners
  • 25 May, 2009 Submission by Round 1 winners of Posters for Judges to review before Poster session at the conference
  • 9 June, 2009 Round 2, Poster session & judging at UPA in Portland, OR
  • 10 June, 2009 Round 3, Oral Presentations of winning projects from the Poster session in Round 2 & announcement of competition winners.

The Design Problem

Sustainable Transportation is about “meeting the mobility needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” 

Sustainable Transportation is an attempt to remedy the current problems of excessive energy consumption, pollution, and inadequate service levels delivered by transportation systems worldwide. The problem can include efforts to reduce carbon emissions, improve public transit, and encourage car sharing, cycling, and walking. It is projected that by 2025 2/3 of the world’s populations will reside in urban areas, making Sustainable Transportation a critical component in economics, politics, and health concerns of massive urbanization.

This competition invites student teams to invent a system that addresses this design problem. The solutions should follow a user centered design process supported by background research and, if possible, ethnographic research of the solution space. We encourage students to reach into their nearby communities and include target user groups beyond students themselves – for example, families with children, urban professionals, the elderly, etc.. Solutions should be focused on real locations and be sensitive to real users’ needs and cultures.

To enter the competition, student teams may present either a concept (a clear, detailed design specification that can be taken to prototype), or a fully realized prototype. Either way, teams must clearly illustrate their design decisions and demonstrate the user centered design processes that have been followed. We strongly encourage consideration of:

  • Previous work in this area and in adjacent design areas
  • Ethnography and contextual research to ground the design decisions
  • Evaluation of the designs with target users within iterative design framework

One response to “Usability Professionals’ Association Conference & Design Competition

  1. Hi Nancy, I’m co-chairing the Student Design Competition at UPA2009, having done this job for CHI2007 and CHI2008 conferences. You ask “What do usability professionals know about sustainable transportation?” Usability is a research and design process that can be applied to a variety of problem spaces. This competition stresses “User Centered Design” which has the students (1) research a problem space – in this case “sustainable transportation”, (2) identify real user needs in that space, (3) develop requirements, (4) design a solution that addresses those requirements, (5) Build a prototype of the solution, or at least the interface for the larger solution, and (6) test that prototype with members of the target audience.

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